“I think everyone has their own interpretation of the word… but in my experience of my life, I found that it means responsibility, almost a call to action, or an acknowledgment of your relationships that you have in your lifetime. Mitakuye Oyasin translated to English means ‘All my Relations’. So in your responsibility to all your relations you are acknowledging that you are your brother’s keeper, you are acknowledging that you are a relative to the land and to the environment, and to the human beings around you.
We say Mitakuye Oyasin in the beginning and at the ending of our ceremonies. But we also say it in the morning – and in the evening and in those times of hardship and times of happiness or in our own minds. Or you may walk with it in the way of your own life, that people know when they say those words Mitakuye Oyasin, that they may see you in the vision of their mind. They may see that responsibility that you are upholding and that is something very powerful for our community, our families, our loved ones and even our enemies to see that we would humble ourselves and walk in that manner.”
Pine Ridge Indian Reservation Kyle, South Dakota August 2012
I am touched by these words as I sit here in Santa Fe gifted by a friend with time to write in her beautiful home. Mitakuye Oyasin is the overwhelming feeling of sad yet joyful hope that came over us like a cloud as we stopped on the way here and met a Zuni warrior named Quam Medicine Bear on the Mogollon Rim.
As I’m about to venture off on a family trip to the Bahamas to celebrate my Mom’s Golden Birthday, I can’t shake the feeling that this is the trip that matters most. I’m so proud of her age, but even now she gets mad if I say how old she is, so let’s just say it’s really golden 🙂
Being an ecstatic traveler who’s often worlds away (even when I’m in the country), I know that there is an invisible, inescapable family tether that is tied to every action I take. Usually, I’m not thinking about those original knots that launched me into life, but they’re having their way all the same.
When I reflect on the love I feel, the love I’ve received, the love I’ve given, as well as the love I missed or withheld, my heart beats with the feeling I could have done more.